Re: Doing administrative work
On Sun, Jan 21, 2007 at 10:03:30PM -0500, Jim Hyslop wrote:
> OK, this latest discussion about logging in as root got me thinking. I'm
> fairly new to Linux. Occasionally, when I need to set up something (as
> an example, my recent DNS questions) I will need to edit a config file,
> and restart the daemon. I usually start by logging in as myself, then
> issue individual 'su [command]' commands. After a while, I get tired of
> typing in the root password over and over, so I just issue a simple 'su'
> and work as root from there.
> Should I be taking a different approach?
As you see from all the replies, the answer is "it depends". To get a
specific answer, you need to give specific details on your overall
Personally, for me, I only have two regular users: me and my wife. I
have two computers connected via a crossover ethernet cable. Under
normal operating procedure, my 486 is just a glorified terminal (via
ssh) to my Athlon box. I have an ssh group and only members of ssh can
ssh into the box. SSH only listens on the local ethernet port. Only
public-key access is allowed. What this means is that the two
computers are really, from a security perspective, one computer. If an
attacker gains access to one, he gains access to both. Since they are
only 20 feet apart in the house its not a huge concern since they could
also just pull the backup off the shelf.
I don't log in as root, but run su - when needed. I never run X apps as
root. I have pam set up so that only members of group adm (which
includes only me) can su.
I could tighten security a lot if I wanted but I'd have to do a lot
locally to make it matter. Its all about total risk assessment. The
reason that _I_ don't run as root all the time is to protect myself from
my own stupid mistakes. I suppose then I could have pam setup so that
I don't have to give the root password; typing su gives enough pause.
On the other hand, I figure that if I need to su often enough to make
this an issue, then I'm doing it too often and would need to look at what
I was doing that I couldn't do as myself.